Category: 4th of july

Independence Day pastries.

Every heart beats true for the red, white & blue. Happy 4th of July!

When our founding father’s made the blueprints for America, I don’t think they had any idea that this time of year would turn into such a circus. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve got nothin’ against a good party. I love to grill up some hot dogs & burgers & have a cold beer. I love the colors red, white & blue. I love seeing everyone (or almost everyone) flying the flag. I have nothing against the 4th of July in it’s current incarnation. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty great.

I just hope that it’s not reduced to nothing but another excuse to get drunk & stupid for most people. Like I said- I have nothing against a good time. But there’s more to the day than a reason to get plastered & blow an arm off. This is a historical day, an important day for Americans. On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted to approve the resolution of independence from Great Britain. From this, Congress turned their attention to the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents (if not the most important) in American history. The document explains the decision for leaving Britain’s rule, becoming 13 independent states that formed a new nation, The United States of America. The date on the Declaration itself was July 4th, which was the date the official wording was approved, so because of that, we celebrate on the 4th. But whichever day it is, it’s important. It should mean something.

For me, it’s not just a reason to party. I never take a minute of my existence for granted, not just that I’m healthy, etc… but that I live in a country which- for all it’s many faults- is pretty damn awesome. But to be honest? Holidays for me are always a(nother) excuse to bake. And as a matter of fact, my mother’s birthday happens to be tomorrow, so it’s kind of a double celebration, which means double the desserts. Which calls for some easy mini pastries for the 4th.

Easy little fruit-filled pastries for the 4th of July! #4thofjuly #independenceday

I’ve made homemade PopTarts before, and I’ve made tons of hand-pies or mini-pies. So I thought that it’d be fun to make some patriotic-themed ones for the 4th. It’s a simple, hand held dessert that bakes up pretty quickly and makes use of fresh fruits. I know, it doesn’t seem simple. There are a lot of steps involved, but in all honesty they’re easy steps! However- you can also use canned pie filling to make them, as well as frozen pie crust. One small can of pie filling and two frozen pie crusts will probably give you around a dozen of these, maybe less.

And you don’t just have to use the blueberry filling. Make strawberry, cherry, blackberry… whatever you want! Or a few of each.

Patriotic blueberry-filled mini pastries. Also known as red, white & BLUEberry pastries! #4thofjuly #independenceday

Why stars? Well because of the stars & stripes of course! The American flag is commonly referred to as the “stars & stripes”, obviously because of the fact that it contains both. The stars are known as the “Union field”, meaning the stars represent the States of the Union. The union field is a blue square, so it was only right I use blueberries in the pies. Right?

If I’m being totally honest, though, I really just wanted to say they were “red, white & BLUEberry.” I’m corny like that.

INDEPENDENCE DAY FRUIT-FILLED MINI PASTRIES

Ingredients:

Pastry dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (to brush on pastry)

Blueberry filling:

  • 1 pint blueberries (2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Make the dough:
    1. To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the dough. Mix together with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface, if necessary, until the dough comes together.
    2. Divide the dough in half. (At this point you can wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Make the filling:
    1. Combine blueberries with cup sugar in pan. Simmer on low heat until sugar is melted and mixture is very liquid; about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in bowl, then add to pan with blueberries. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to full boil and is clear and thick. Pour hot mixture into large bowl & same as with the cherries, cool until room temp.
  3. Roll the dough out. Roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8-inch thick, in a 9″ by 9″ square, or as close you can get to that. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel or bench scraper, trim the dough so you have even smooth edges. Add those scraps to a scrap pile- we’ll deal with them later.
  4. Cut the sheet of dough into 6 squares/rectangles/squarangles/whatever shape you can. On half of the squares, cut a star shape out of the middle; these are going to be the “tops” of your pastries. Save the stars!
  5. Using a spatula, transfer the “bottom” squares to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the lightly beaten egg on each of the rectangles. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, leaving about a 1/2-inch of space around the edges. DON’T OVER FILL THEM. One at a time, place a second rectangle of dough on top of the nine assembled ones. Using your fingers, press around the seams of the dough to make sure they are sealed. Press the tines of a fork around the edges of the rectangles.
  6. Now, if you want to, you can add the cut out stars, attaching them with some of that beaten egg, to the tops of some pastries. Offset them on the cutout, or put them next to it, etc, then brush that too with the egg. If you’re not using the stars, dust them with cinnamon sugar along with the scraps mentioned above, and bake them on another cookie sheet until golden. INSTANT SNACKS.
  7. Repeat #’s 4 & 5 with the other half of your dough, if you wish. If not, the dough will keep in a fridge for a few days.
  8. Refrigerate the pans with the finished pastries (you don’t need to cover them) for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350° degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Store pastries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Independence day mini fruit pies! Better than those popular toastier pastries & great with vanilla ice cream. #4thofjuly #independenceday

If you wanted to add a white icing to the top, you could. Or ice the stars white with little red sprinkles. Cuteness.

So, here’s the deal: I’d suggest using the above as a guideline, because I never get the right amount of pastries. EVER. I never measure right, and I always end up with more or less than I’m supposed to. And mine are never perfectly shaped- they’re always wonky & uneven. But that’s okay! Who cares!? The important thing is that they’re DELICIOUS.

And they are. They’re particularly amazing to eat around the firepit, with a bowl of vanilla ice cream (or cherry!), while watching the fireworks.

Happy Independence Day!

Delicious little pastries filled with blueberry (or cherry, or strawberry). #4thofjuly #independenceday

 

America, hell yeah!

Happy 236th birthday, America. You look pretty good for an old broad. To celebrate; strawberry “shortcake” cupcakes for the 4th of July; vanilla cupcakes stuffed with chopped fresh strawberries (after baking; cut a hole out of each cake & fill with chopped strawberries), topped with fresh whipped cream and more fresh sliced strawberries. And of course- little American flags & pinwheels.

O beautiful, for soft whipped cream

On moist & tender cake

For bright red berries majesties

Atop the fruited cakes

America, America,

Bakers shed thy grace on thee

And crown thy cakes with buttercream

From sea to shining sea

Take it easy today, my fellow Yanks. If you choose to light fireworks, don’t blow any appendages off. And don’t drink too much.

Remember what today is really about, and please remember our soldiers who’d give anything to be home watching fireworks explode instead of roadside bombs.

Military Monday.

Happy 235th birthday, America!


Today we Americans celebrate Independence Day, the day the Continental Congress ratified the document called the Declaration of Independence, the document that helped us to become our own nation, independent from Great Britain. It’s definitely a day worth celebrating, but we should also remember all the Americans over the centuries that have fought for our freedom to be our own nation & fought to protect us & others. Brave men & women have put their lives on the line for us civilians during many wars, on our soil and overseas, and especially on days when we celebrate our freedom we should remember them. Land of the free, home of the brave.

I love my country. I may not always agree with my government, I may not always be happy with how “we” do things, I don’t think we’re perfect (far from it- especially between what us ‘white folk’ did to the Native Americans & slavery, not to mention other things), but we try hard. We mean well, most of us do, anyway, most of the time. Sure we make mistakes, but we’re a relatively young (and admittedly cocky) nation. But despite or maybe even because of all that, I will always & forever love this country I call home very, very deeply. I’m proud to be a 5th generation American on most sides (3rd on the others). Thank you to my ancestors for taking those long, probably terrifying boat rides here, around 150+ years ago, through sickness & heat & freezing cold, to take a chance on a new life. Thank you for, in turn, making me an American. Thank you for fighting the wars of your new country, becoming police & firemen in your new country, & contributing to the success of your new country.

I love that America is made of immigrants & misfits. A country founded on the principle that you are free to be yourself. A country based on the principle that no monarchy should control the people, but there should be a democracy that the people themselves control. A country built from the ground up by all of those “illegal” immigrants who were looking for a better life & streets paved with gold. I am so grateful have the freedom of speech that I have here, and the freedom to be who I am & wear what I want, the freedom to practice or not practice whatever religion I please, vote for who I want to represent me, to protest & picket & say “NO!” or to say “YES!”  & not answer to anyone for it. So another thank you to all of you veterans & deceased veterans who’ve paved the way, from 1775 – today.

“Oh beautiful, for heroes proved, in liberating strife,

Who more than self, our country loved, and of mercy more than life,

America, America, may God thy gold refine,

Till all success, in nobleness, and every gain divine. “

..

(Thanks to freeyourmind775 for the beautiful video)

Red, white, blue… & I forgot these, too.

For all us Americans, a very big day is upon us. July 4th is our Independence Day, which is a pretty big deal. Not that piece of shit Will Smith movie, but the actual celebration of our Independence & our becoming our own nation.

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.[1][2][3]

In typical “me” fashion, I make a big deal out of this. Flags galore. You might remember a few weeks back, when I posted about my “paint splatter” cupcakes (and you might remember just a few days ago how I used some as my Military Monday photo). I mentioned how easy it would be to make them perfect for the 4th of July… and it gave me an idea. I made a few in red, white & blue for Flag Day and then never posted them. Thankfully, I have a lot going on and forgot about the photos and I didn’t use them, because it’s way too hot to bake right now. Thank cupcakes the sides of my head are almost shaved and the rest is short… if I had long hair I’d kill myself. What do you long-haired girls do in this weather, honestly? It’s been so long since I had hair longer than chin length, and before that so long since I had even shoulder length hair that I can’t remember. It must suck.

I got off track there. But anyway, the bottom line is, you know what all that crap above means? It means I’m going to post those red, white & blue “paint splatter” cupcakes now and just pretend they’re brand new for the 4th of July! Shh. Don’t tell.

See? Brand new cupcakes (but not really). Ta-da! I must have been either inebriated or insane that night, because these pictures suck royally. I apologize!

You know you love my patriotic cupcake cookie jar & candle… the only good thing about Kohl’s, ever, thanks mom!

It’s a great idea if you have to bake for a barbecue on the 4th and you can’t think of what to do, or don’t have a lot of time. All you need are cupcakes & red & blue Candy Melts. That’s it! And maybe a few mini-flags or toppers. You could also make the frosting red or blue and use the two other colors in Candy Melts; i.e. blue frosting with red & white splatters, etc. The possibilities are endless! I’m not going to go through the directions here, you can view them at the original post. I will say that they’d be way cuter in red, white & blue liners. Oh well.

Sidenote: Should I start taking bets on how often I’m going to hear that Katy Perry song this year?

So I wanted to write something about Independence Day, but I’ll save it for the 4th. I can’t believe it’s July already! Incredible. And crazy. Time flies. I’ve been so busy with my garden & summertime activities, I really have been losing track of time. It seems the only time I realize the date or day of the week is when I log into WordPress. Being outside in the sunshine is amazing, I’m soaking it in as much as possible because it always seems like before you know it it’s freakin’ snowing. I know, I know, I should shut my mouth. With global warming it might start to snow in August soon. I wonder how much of the Earth will be the way it is now for my children, or their children, and I come to the conclusion that the answer is probably not a whole hell of a lot. Will my children know seasons like I had as a kid? No, because we’re just barely dealing with two seasons as it is- summer & winter. Fall? What’s fall? It gets cold in November after being hot right through October, and it snows until April. Sad. Wow, nice going, I turned a happy/celebratory post into a goth-fest of misery in less than 5 paragraphs. Sorry to get all ‘Inconvenient Truth’ on you guys.

Anyway, on a lighter note, there’s less than 12 hours left to enter the Shabby Apple apron giveaway. Make sure you get in on that. And Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans… be safe! Don’t lose any appendages you may need in the future.

Happy birthday to America (& my mom, too)!

The month of July is a crazy busy month for me. My friend Sami’s birthday is the third, then the 4th of July, then my mom’s birthday is the fifth, then me & Jay have our anniversary on the 12th. And then… my birthday is on the 30th. Yeah. INSANE. So basically I spend the entire first week baking and making treats, and the entire rest of the month eating delicious dinners & treats.

The 4th of July is a big deal to me, I’m a history buff and me & Jay recently (finally) finished watching the John Adams HBO miniseries, so the history of America is really fresh in my mind. I like to remind people that patriotism is not nationalism. Pride in my country does not mean I believe it can do no wrong or agree with all of it’s policies, nor do I believe it is beyond improvement. I love America and I’m a proud American, I’m just not always proud of my government. I often wonder if John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin & the other founding fathers would be proud of what we’ve become or horrified. Regardless, I love my country and I’m the first one to fly a flag… even if it’s on a cupcake!

I went really low-key with the cupcakes; simple vanilla with a vanilla buttercream and some fresh whole blueberries & sliced strawberries on top. No big gimmicks or anything this year. I was thinking about making three-layer cupcakes with red, white & blue layers but nixed it. Then I debated making frosting that looked like fireworks, then I nixed that too. So I ended up making these and honestly I was pretty pleased with them. Shamefully, these are my first “patriotic” cupcakes. I’ve made ones that were incidentally red, white & blue like these, but I haven’t made any on purpose. Usually, for Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day it’s always just too damn hot & I have too many other things to make, but this year I found these adorable liners and just knew I had to make some red, white & blue cupcakes. Since they’re also for my mom’s birthday… I had to do the candle thing. I was going to use them for my Military Monday tomorrow, but I found a better image to use. So these will probably pop up on another Military Monday.

I also made some panna cotta with balsamic strawberries, which is a great warm-weather dish & a favorite around here. I was going to make some more stuff, but the weather is so brutal- 95° and with the heat index it feels like over 100°- that it just didn’t happen.

Cutest patriotic liners ever? Perhaps.

Happy (one day late) birthday Sami, aka the new Mrs. Lanza, Happy (one day early) birthday, mom… and Happy 4th of July, America. And especially this week/weekend, for Military Monday let’s really try and remember those soldiers (and cops & firemen) who can’t have a barbecue with their families, for any & every reason.